Energy Resources and their Uses in Producing Electricity Essay

Published: 2019-12-10 12:10:06
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Category: Nuclear power

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Renewable energy is energy drawn from natural processes that are restored quicker than they are used up, some renewable energy resources are biomass, food, wind, waves, flowing water, solar and geothermal. The sun however, is known to be the ultimate energy resource since almost all energy resources originate from the suns energy. This is possible according to the law of conservation of energy which states that energy cant be destroyed or formed but can be changed from one form to the other. The sun is the ultimate energy source for biomass, food, wind, waves and flowing water because: Plants and animals obtain their energy from the process of photosynthesis. Photosynthesis is where light energy from the sun is converted into chemical energy. Plants are usually the organisms which do the photosynthesizing to produce food (energy) for themselves and the animals consume the plants and get food (energy) as well. Energy resources which obtain energy from plant and animal material such as fossil fuels; coal, gas, oil, biomass and food get their energy through this process.

Due to the uneven heating of the earths surface by the sun, the cooler air mass is the cooler air mass is forced under the warmer air which rises; this is air flowing from high pressure to low pressure and since wind is simply air in motion wind is produced. Waves however are produced due to wind blowing over the oceans surface. Wind blows and friction causes the water on the surface to move at different speeds than the water below causing a rotating motion and undulations in the water known as waves. The water cycle is made up of combined processes which allow water to be continuously available on earth. Evaporation is a process in the water cycle in which the suns heat causes water to change state to water vapour after this the water returns to the earths surface after condensation and precipitation. Due to these processes water is available for the production of energy using running water.

Fossil fuel is the general term used for buried, combustible geologic deposits of organic material formed from decayed plants and animals that have been converted to crude oil, coal, natural gas or heavy oils by exposure to heat and pressure in the earths crust over millions of years. Fossil fuels include the hydrocarbons coal, oil and natural gas. 41% of the worlds electricity is generated from coal. When using coal to generate electricity, the coal is firstly pulverized in huge mills into a fine powder to increase surface area for burning. The coal powder is transferred into boilers and is burnt under controlled conditions the heat is then absorbed by tubes filled with water which causes the water to change to water vapour under high pressure. The water vapour moves to the turbines causing its propellers to spin.

The turbine shaft is linked to the rotor of the generator which is an electromagnet that spins inside a large copper coil to generate electricity. The electricity flows into the transmission lines and is transported to home. The water vapour is cooled and converted back to water so that it can be reused in the heated pipes. Direct solar water heating systems capture the suns heat is in collectors which contain water and is linked to an insulated storage tank. The water heats up and is transported directly to the storage tank. Indirect systems however use a fluid with a low freezing point to absorb radiant heat from the sun. The suns rays are absorbed into the heat pipes which heat up a thin copper laminate found on the back of each pipe, the fluid with the low freezing point gets in contact with the laminate and heats up.

The temperature in the pipes rise and a pump activates which circulates the fluid through a heat exchange coil in the water tank. The coil transfers its heat to the water tank and hot water is produced. Different ways of producing electricity has different benefits as well as problems. In the generation of electricity using coal advantages present are very large amounts of electricity can be produced in one place due to coal being easily combustible. The process is relatively inexpensive due to large reserves and easy accessibility and a fossil fuel power station can be built almost anywhere. The disadvantages however are coal is non- renewable and fast depleting, burning coal releases carbon dioxide which contributes to global warming and the mining of coal causes a lot of deforestation. The benefits of generating electricity using uranium are nuclear plants do not burn material to produce electricity therefore no polluting gases are released, the amount of electricity produced at nuclear stations is large; equivalent to fossil fuel plants and nuclear fuel is inexpensive and easy to transport.

The problems associated with nuclear plants however are the plants need a lot of capital, the waste produced after reactions occur contain unstable elements and is highly radioactive and many governments fear that unstable countries which develop nuclear power may also develop nuclear weapons and use them. Producing electricity using wind can be advantageous since the wind is free and can be efficiently captured with modern technology, the energy produced does not cause greenhouse gases or other pollutants and wind turbines dont take up a lot of land space so the remaining space can be used for other things. The problems however are the wind force is not constant and there may be times when no electricity is produced, large wind farms are needed to produce large amounts of electricity and wind turbines are extremely noisy.

Benefits of producing electricity using wave energy are tidal and wave energy is free, it creates no fluid or solid pollution and the energy capturing and conversion mechanism can help protect the shoreline. The disadvantages are however waves are a diffuse source of energy irregular in size, direction and durability, the technology isnt fully developed and problems still exist with the transport of hydroelectricity. Geothermal energy production is advantageous since the running and maintenance costs are low, the plants take up little space and it isnt dependent on weather conditions. Problems that arise however are the installation costs of the plant is very high, there is the risk of an active volcano erupting and it may release some harmful gases that can escape through holes drilled during construction.

Fossil fuel power stations waste a lot of energy due to the high amounts of heat they release. It is said that at the older power stations about 2/3 of energy from fossil fuels is wasted because of this wastage of heat. To use this energy more effectively persons suggest combined heat and power (CHP) stations which are smaller, cleaner, closer to homes and more efficient. These allow heat produced by the electricity generation to be used in homes and buildings rather than being wasted.

Also fossil fuel energy can be used more efficiently is the use of multipower vehicles which improves combustion allowing lower fuel consumption and less gas emissions. In the Caribbean, energy can be used efficiently by limiting the amount of electricity we consume. Things such as putting water outside to get heated directly from the sun to bathe, using energy saving appliances and carpooling can help with the efficient use of energy. Buildings can be built with renewable energy making structures such as solar panels, windmills etc. for energy to be used domestically.

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